The full title of the standard is :
BS8538 Specification for the provision of services relating to the commercialization of intellectual property rights.
It does not tell you how to develop ideas. It does say how people and organisations that provide services to originators of ideas are expected to behave. The Standard is aimed at the Service Providers and the professional community and not you, the originator, so we have written this overview for you.
It would be impossible to make rules for every type of service that you might require. Instead the Standard sets out the need for clarity, confidentiality, and certainty so that you can get a quality service.
The Standard requires that a Service Provider shall;
act professionally with integrity and competence,
keep ideas confidential,
clearly describe in advance any payments needed,
put your needs first,
avoid conflicts of interest,
provide a complaints resolution process.
The Standard says ideas must be kept confidential. A Service Provider must give you a confidentiality agreement to make sure that your idea is kept out of the public domain. If they do not then you may lose the rights to your idea.
The only people that dont need to give you a confidentiality agreement are the Intellectual Property Office, or a person who belongs to a profession regulated by the Legal Services Act, such as a Patent Attorney. Anybody who falsely claims to be one of these or falsely claims to follow the Standard is committing a fraud and may be prosecuted.
A reputable organisation that puts your interests first will always try and give you good advice, even if it is disappointing. It is always nice to receive compliments but the Standard was created to try and prevent organisations setting false expectations. These can lead to severe financial and personal difficulties. You should be very cautious about enthusiastic encouragement for your idea if it is not based on proper research and an understanding of your needs. (see our page on inventor scams)
We hope that ideas that are developed by people that comply with the Standard will be more successful. This is because investors and partners can have confidence that the ideas have been properly researched and documented. Of course the Standard does not guarantee commercial success; that depends on your idea. It does mean that the originators of ideas can be confident that they are giving their idea a better chance of being successful.
The British Standard BS8538 is a step towards a better environment for innovation in the United Kingdom. We expect that it will enable your ideas to be supported properly and effectively. Investors and manufacturers will be encouraged to support the development of the valuable and well qualified ideas that the Standard will support. We hope that your ideas will be playing a key role in our future economy and we wish you every success with them.
If you would like more details about the standard then please contact BSI or the Intellectual Property Office.